Author Topic: HMCS Montréal part of navy trial to experiment with reducing crews  (Read 44151 times)

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Offline Nuggs

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Until the first time your internet, DWAN, CSNI or any other network link craps the bed...

And who are you going to get to configure radio equipment and circuits?
The other 7 or 8 Nav Comms.

Speaking as a Nav Comm, it's an over staffed section.
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Offline Occam

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The other 7 or 8 Nav Comms.

Speaking as a Nav Comm, it's an over staffed section.

Even with just one on the bridge, and one in the CCR, you need 6 to stand 1 in 3.  Throw in one for SNC.  What do you do when TG Tactical and the VHF are both squawking at the same time?  Maybe throw in a little fleet manoeuvring?

And down in the CCR...not sure how one person is going to do messages, configure equipment, manage servers and networks, and everything else.  What classes of ship have you sailed in?

Offline Nuggs

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Frigates 280s and submarines.

Don't get me started on Nav Comms on the bridge. Fleet manoeuvring and VHF should be taken by the 2nd 3rd 4th OOW anyway. Hell a MARS 4 officer has more training and experience with them then a 3s Nav Comm anyway.

TG TAC? I'd worry about the cct if it wasn't always and argument with the OOW about what the signal meant or how to interpret it anyway. Or that it differs from what was passed over chat to OPs.

Put the SNC on watches with the CISO.

If you have a CISO / SNC on watches then do you really need a WSUP?

Keep the SHOW. Keep one bridge body. 2 more in the CCR.

Plus the ISA.

That gives you 10. You still have bridge manning. You still have 2 junior bodies in the shack to run BDCST / RSS / InterShip. You still have SHOWs to setup / TS ccts, and liase with OPS. And you still have an on call day working ISA to react to IT issues, who can be assisted by the two Jr bodies in the shack for menial bits, cause God knows the Navy rarely copies BDCST or does RSS unless it's WUPS or training.

I've sailed 1 in 3 with 9 bodies on a frigate. It was busy but can definitely be done.

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Offline Occam

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Well, I'll defer to your opinion as your experience is more recent than mine...but I can tell you that there is certainly the potential for things to get a lot busier in the CCR.  Imagine reverting to completely manual circuit setups.  We're hoping to avoid that, but I wouldn't bet money either way.

Offline Nuggs

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I wouldn't necessarily defer to me as I've been gone from skimmers for awhile. But as a trade I will maintain:

- That our bridge bodies are next to useless except to maintain the bloat that already exists in bridge manning. In the modern environment visual signals are next to dead. The signalman need to let it die. As well VHF should belong to the OOW.

- The 3 junior bodies in the CCR are very underutilized. Unless your running a TGEX copying BDCST and grading InterShip they won't get utilized fully. And you'd be hard pressed to find a shack in the fleet that could actually run the 3 ccts and maintain it for any length of time. We haven't forced the units to maintain those skills very well.
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Offline donaldk

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Until the first time your internet, DWAN, CSNI or any other network link craps the bed...

And who are you going to get to configure radio equipment and circuits?

When I was on IRO, 3 of the NavComms were IT, remainder were mostly trainees not counting the PO1, PO2, and the MS.  Alongside it was sweet having a NavComm section of 30 strong, because it meant as the OOD you had one on the duty watch if that priority message needed to be chopped out (in its last days of being seaworthy in the few days before going out).  Now having a Combat Dept of 60-80 going to sea for a simple FISHPAT is quite a waste (especially if the damn gun isn't even fitted), but a TGEX with staff onboard is a different story (and we don't do enough of them as it is).

Now having my ET shop 60% under-manned SUCKED - it was a miracle to keep the lights on and IMCS from taking a complete crap.

I am hoping that the trial on MON is success literally as long as the risk assessments are done.  The MCDV concept, although hard on the core crew, is a valid concept (you have your minimum manning for the platform already made known, then add mission requirements on top, and also make sure you have a plan for ISSC port-stops - routine or emergency). 

Offline Lumber

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I wouldn't necessarily defer to me as I've been gone from skimmers for awhile. But as a trade I will maintain:

- That our bridge bodies are next to useless except to maintain the bloat that already exists in bridge manning. In the modern environment visual signals are next to dead. The signalman need to let it die. As well VHF should belong to the OOW.

- The 3 junior bodies in the CCR are very underutilized. Unless your running a TGEX copying BDCST and grading InterShip they won't get utilized fully. And you'd be hard pressed to find a shack in the fleet that could actually run the 3 ccts and maintain it for any length of time. We haven't forced the units to maintain those skills very well.

The Americans sail without NAVCOMMS (if they even have that trade?) on the bridge. As you said, the 2OOW/3OOW is more than capable of handling comms and tactical signals. We do a lot of it on our MARS training, and then never get to use it again.

Personally, for peace-time sailing, I'd be more than comfortable with a bridge that was only OOW, 2OOW, Bosn's Mate and Helmsman.
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Actually Lumber, the US Navy used to have (as we did before they became navcoms) signalman as a trade until 2004. After that, in view of the reduced need for visual signals, it was decided to merge the trade and the training with the Quartermasters. A word of caution here: In the US Navy, QM is a trade with entry at the PO2 level (their PO2 is equivalent to our MS). That trade is responsible for all navigation and ship handling (meaning helm, not conning) of the ship and, now, all the communications on the bridge. In the US, this is not done by officers.

As for tactical comms, they are usually done by the Combat information specialists in the CIC, then passed to the bridge as instructions after "decoding". That explains why the Americans are sometimes a little slower than we are at maneuvering.  ;D


Offline Lumber

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That trade is responsible for all navigation and ship handling (meaning helm, not conning) of the ship and, now, all the communications on the bridge. In the US, this is not done by officers.

As for tactical comms, they are usually done by the Combat information specialists in the CIC, then passed to the bridge as instructions after "decoding". That explains why the Americans are sometimes a little slower than we are at maneuvering.  ;D

'Curious then. Either the USN has changed their methords or the Arlegih I sailed on did it a bit differently. When we did manoeuvres on RIMPAC in 2010, they appointed one of the 2nd JOODs (the most junior) as TacO (Tactical Communication Officer), the JOOD as ConnO, and the OOD just kind of watched. When a tacsig came in, the TacO would decipher it, then pass the station/formation down to CIC.  Then, both CIC and the bridge would calculate a relvel solution (but if I recall CIC only got it right about 50% of the time...). Then we would manoeuvre.

The QM did the same thing we saw him do all the time. Watch movies in his shack and appear every once in a while to take a GPS fix and put an entry in the log (no OOW notebook, I found).

In any case, they had a much smaller bridge team as well. From what I remember, it was a team of 5: OOD, JOOD, Helmsman, Bosnsmate and QM. There may have been 1 more but it's been a few years...

Anyways, one of the ways I can see this whole crew reduction thing working is for the ship to realize that if you're only doing things in the  day time, you don't need a full 1-in-2 watch rotation. You can change a lot of postions to day workers and therefore have only 1 watch.

When we were doing trials back in fall 2014, ppl were freaking out because we couldn't find a 2nd EWS, until I argued that since all of our trials were taking place during the day, we would stand down the EWS position, and just have that particular member show up in Ops whenever there was a trial going on. You don't need an EWS to baby sit the NESOPs on the mid-watch when nothing.is.happening.

Apply that logic to all of the difference positions and you can cut down significantly. Ramp up for deployed Ops.
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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'Curious then. Either the USN has changed their methords or the Arlegih I sailed on did it a bit differently. When we did manoeuvres on RIMPAC in 2010, they appointed one of the 2nd JOODs (the most junior) as TacO (Tactical Communication Officer), the JOOD as ConnO, and the OOD just kind of watched. When a tacsig came in, the TacO would decipher it, then pass the station/formation down to CIC.  Then, both CIC and the bridge would calculate a relvel solution (but if I recall CIC only got it right about 50% of the time...). Then we would manoeuvre.

I was thinking as the ordinary "on-watch" situation, not planned heavy maneuvering periods.  :)

Anyways, one of the ways I can see this whole crew reduction thing working is for the ship to realize that if you're only doing things in the  day time, you don't need a full 1-in-2 watch rotation. You can change a lot of postions to day workers and therefore have only 1 watch.

You mean become continental Europeans? All exercises during the day, with a break for lunch, then you need only one for each operational position; you have a small cadre of maintainers, that do nothing else as their day job, and at night, you just steam around with a watch of five.  ;D

BTW, people here have mentioned the MCDV core crew as an example, but in my mind (and that of many that were around at the time of transition, it did not live up to its billing in the engineering side as a result of the engineering lobby's efforts. Here's what I mean:

The MCDV's were supposed to have unmanned engine rooms controlled from MCR by operators only, with no repairs/maintenance at sea - all of it being done under the service contract. Emergency repairs at sea, if any, were to be the purview of the CERA and A/CERA, who were not supposed to be from the NESO trade. In theory, for a one in four rotation of operators, you would have had a crew of seven engineers: 4 Watchkeepers, CERA, A/CERA and one Electrician. Instead, the Engineers lobby refused to operate with a single WK and forced a "ER roundsman" on the whole scheme, increasing the size to 11, just because they could not let go of the concept of somebody walking through the engine room and checking things by hand once an hour.

Before any one crucifies me with examples where they "needed" these extra hands (and please remember the original concept behind the MCDV was: if anything fails, the operators shuts it down and we limp back in harbour without it to get it fixed), remember that the Brits are doing exactly that with the River class OPV's. Not only does it have a single operator up only for the engineering, but the actual controls are duplicated from MCR to the bridge and the engineer on watch sits his/her watch on the bridge with everybody else (very Star-Trekish  :) ).
   
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 11:21:52 by Oldgateboatdriver »

Offline Underway

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BTW, people here have mentioned the MCDV core crew as an example, but in my mind (and that of many that were around at the time of transition, it did not live up to its billing in the engineering side as a result of the engineering lobby's efforts. Here's what I mean:

The MCDV's were supposed to have unmanned engine rooms controlled from MCR by operators only, with no repairs/maintenance at sea - all of it being done under the service contract. Emergency repairs at sea, if any, were to be the purview of the CERA and A/CERA, who were not supposed to be from the NESO trade. In theory, for a one in four rotation of operators, you would have had a crew of seven engineers: 4 Watchkeepers, CERA, A/CERA and one Electrician. Instead, the Engineers lobby refused to operate with a single WK and forced a "ER roundsman" on the whole scheme, increasing the size to 11, just because they could not let go of the concept of somebody walking through the engine room and checking things by hand once an hour.

Before any one crucifies me with examples where they "needed" these extra hands (and please remember the original concept behind the MCDV was: if anything fails, the operators shuts it down and we limp back in harbour without it to get it fixed), remember that the Brits are doing exactly that with the River class OPV's. Not only does it have a single operator up only for the engineering, but the actual controls are duplicated from MCR to the bridge and the engineer on watch sits his/her watch on the bridge with everybody else (very Star-Trekish  :) ).
   

I think you mean the engineering mafia not lobby.  I understand that for a steamer with boilers the safety precautions this was really important but now.... not so much needed.  And the MARS community is a bit afraid to take them on, mainly because they don't "really" understand their own equipment.

MCDV's are not perfect.  My last ship in the reserves, the bridge crew on the MCDV's were often up their with their eyes bleeding from fatigue because they were on 1 in 3 with their normal day work and exercises... thank god for senior staff stepping in to help out when they saw the problem (XO, Buffer, Coxn taking the odd watch spot to break up the worst of it).

Offline Chief Engineer

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I was thinking as the ordinary "on-watch" situation, not planned heavy maneuvering periods.  :)

You mean become continental Europeans? All exercises during the day, with a break for lunch, then you need only one for each operational position; you have a small cadre of maintainers, that do nothing else as their day job, and at night, you just steam around with a watch of five.  ;D

BTW, people here have mentioned the MCDV core crew as an example, but in my mind (and that of many that were around at the time of transition, it did not live up to its billing in the engineering side as a result of the engineering lobby's efforts. Here's what I mean:

The MCDV's were supposed to have unmanned engine rooms controlled from MCR by operators only, with no repairs/maintenance at sea - all of it being done under the service contract. Emergency repairs at sea, if any, were to be the purview of the CERA and A/CERA, who were not supposed to be from the NESO trade. In theory, for a one in four rotation of operators, you would have had a crew of seven engineers: 4 Watchkeepers, CERA, A/CERA and one Electrician. Instead, the Engineers lobby refused to operate with a single WK and forced a "ER roundsman" on the whole scheme, increasing the size to 11, just because they could not let go of the concept of somebody walking through the engine room and checking things by hand once an hour.

Before any one crucifies me with examples where they "needed" these extra hands (and please remember the original concept behind the MCDV was: if anything fails, the operators shuts it down and we limp back in harbour without it to get it fixed), remember that the Brits are doing exactly that with the River class OPV's. Not only does it have a single operator up only for the engineering, but the actual controls are duplicated from MCR to the bridge and the engineer on watch sits his/her watch on the bridge with everybody else (very Star-Trekish  :) ).
   

When we originally commissioned the first MCDV's we had 1 Chief Eng, 1 Sr ET, 1 NET , 4 EOOW and 4 Roundsman. This lasted about 6 months.  This was the concept of manning for the ships at the time, not sure where this other stuff came about however back then lots was talked about, no tools, contractor did everything, unmanned engine room and that didn't last long. It wasn't the Engineering mafia that doesn't want unmanned engine rooms, it was simply a matter of safety. Originally the ships were supported to have a IMCS, however that went by the wayside and a more more simpler system was installed to save money, hell it took them over 10 years to install a CCTV system in the machinery spaces. Most of the machinery do have a double redundancy and a "return"home capability, however if we replied on that we wouldn't actually be deployable to some of the places we're gotten, such as the Arctic. As well the amount of teething problems we had with the Main Alternators and resultant catastrophic failures it was fortunate we had the 1 and 3 rotation we have. Its easy to say make it a unmanned engine room with the proper equipment, but when things go sideways and they will the less engineers you have could make the difference between getting home and not arriving at all. I am here to tell you that the demands placed on the ships company and engineering department we need more than less.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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So, correct me if I'm wrong, please, but what I think I'm learning from this thread is:

   1. We can build warship to civilian standards, thus making big, Big savings in capital costs (my 80% of the capability for 20% of the cost thing); but

   2. We cannot crew our warships to civilian standards if we want (as we must) something like 80% of performance.

New question: are those "civilian standards" becoming more common for warships (other than in the USN)?
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as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
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Offline Lumber

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New question: are those "civilian standards" becoming more common for warships (other than in the USN)?

I'm not exactly an expert on "civilian standards", and I certainly can't speak for any new warships that are being built, but in the 7 years that I sailed on CPFs (on and off), I didn't see anything like a reduction in crew demands or manning levels, other than the elimination of the requirement for an Aft Lookout.
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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So, correct me if I'm wrong, please, but what I think I'm learning from this thread is:

   1. We can build warship to civilian standards, thus making big, Big savings in capital costs (my 80% of the capability for 20% of the cost thing); but

   2. We cannot crew our warships to civilian standards if we want (as we must) something like 80% of performance.

New question: are those "civilian standards" becoming more common for warships (other than in the USN)?

Not quite, Edward. Right now, we are going down a path of building vessels with military purpose to civilian standard (AOPs and probably tankers). The compartmentalizations, redundancy, state of quieting and probably the quality of the steel will all be inferior to what happens with CSC. That is fine- those vessels are unlikely to ever see high intensity combat. All of those things I mentioned are what starts to cost you money.

As for crewing- automation, wherever you can get away with it, is a good thing. It is no panacea, however. If (when) things go wrong, you may well find yourself without enough humans onboard to save yourself. But that all comes down to severity versus the probability of something bad happening. You cannot (obviously) account for every possible contingency.

As vessels age (say past the 20 year mark) unless you have been extremely diligent in your preventative maintenance and replacing gear as it becomes obsolete, your crew begins to get run off its feet just fixing the little (and not so little) things that break.

So- if I were in charge of buying ships, I would try to get the crew size as small as I could reasonably get away with (humans cost a lot of money over the life of a warship). I would also dispose of any ship after 18-20 years, as they become maintenance hogs after that point.

Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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The problem here ERC is that I don't know what "civilian" standard means, and I doubt if anybody knows.

Manning is much more a function of the duty of the ship at stake.

Take a modern bulk carrier. It gets out of harbour and basically, comes up to transit speed, switches over to heavy bunker, and stay at that speed (and almost on that course) for the whole transit to say Europe. It has a single medium speed diesel engine turning fixed pitch screw through a simple straightforward gearbox, a single diesel generator and one emergency generator. The chance of a breakdown in the engine room is pretty low, and if it happens, then you just drift while the chief engineering mate and his crew make the repair. A total engineering department of one Chief mate and two assistant, none of which stand watch, to deal with ongoing maintenance (limited really to cleaning the oil filters in rotation and the injectors sets) is more than enough. Same goes for bridge crew: one officer to plot the GPS fix every hour and otherwise keep an eye out for the one or two other large ship they may cross path with in any given watch (remember they are mid-ocean), 90% of which encounters require no maneuvering , is more than enough. As there is no "ongoing drills" all the time, and they have all the same watches all the time, six people are enough. Add the captain and the cooks and you get a crew of eleven. And that's enough for what is, in effect a truck.

But go onboard a cruise ship, where the seaman's crew is responsible for thousands of human lives, and suddenly, this truck like basic manning is far from sufficient. You will see bridge crew and engineering watches much closer in composition and number to the ones we use in the Navy, and the overall number of seaman goes up accordingly, with most cruise ships having "seaman" (i.e. excluding the "hotel" personnel) crew closer to about 120-150 members, about half of which are engineers of some description.

You have the same situation for, say, a deep diving support ship: crew of more than 100, in large part engineers, to make absolutely sure that nothing, underline nothing, breaks down or malfunctions while the divers are at depth.

And you have everything in between depending on the ship's task. So I ask again what does "civilian" standard crewing means?

Now, for the Navy, if all we ever did was drive around at constant speed going from A to B, (I am sure Lumber will agree here) we could reduce the number of people on watch, and with nothing else but watch keeping going on, we'd be standing one in six or seven with the numbers we have onboard. But that is not what we do. We are warships and when out of harbour, we are either on an operation or training for it. Either way, it requires more people and it takes a much higher toll on all the equipment - which is constantly and harshly solicited by our maneuvering - which in itself requires more maintainers and since we have a lot more equipment (read engines/gearboxes/mechanical devices) than the standard merchant ship that also means more maintainers.

But there are still ways to reduce personnel in the navy overall or reduce manning to face critical shortages. One way is to accept that, other than the ships deploying on operations, where you do need everyone (try do an Ocean Safari, for instance, without a full crew) when going out to train only, you could reduce the operations side to a single watch and do all the training during the work day only, then just steaming around with minimal watch on deck at night. You then augment such crew when it is about to go on operations somewhere.

A word of caution, however: This can work as a temporary measure when critical shortages exist or as mean to provide the non high-readiness ships with leave and sending personnel on career courses or easing the tempo for family reasons but it cannot be a long term plan. If all hell broke lose, you have to be able to fully man every ship in the fleet, so overall, you need to have the numbers available to do that. In the end, automation is the only way to go long term for crew reduction, as long as we accept that in case of breakdown it may reduce the ship's fighting efficiency.     

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Best. Post. Ever.  :salute:

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Best. Post. Ever.  :salute:

 :ditto:  Thanks SKT and OGBD for keeping me on a sensible track. Some of these ship discussions are very informative for laymen (and landsmen).
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
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Offline Underway

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So, correct me if I'm wrong, please, but what I think I'm learning from this thread is:

   1. We can build warship to civilian standards, thus making big, Big savings in capital costs (my 80% of the capability for 20% of the cost thing); but

   2. We cannot crew our warships to civilian standards if we want (as we must) something like 80% of performance.

New question: are those "civilian standards" becoming more common for warships (other than in the USN)?

There is another aspect to this (which was touched on earlier).  Many European ships have reduced their crew on warships.  They don't have a coast guard similar to the Canadian construction and their armed coast guard ships are labelled as warships.  They accept lower crewing requirements because they also accept lower readiness standards.  If something goes wrong in European waters then they are quite frankly very close to help from either their own country or a neighbour.  In Canada something goes wrong we are generally on our own far from help.  There is also the professionalism of the service we are living with.  We generally expect and get very high standards from our ships and crew in performance of their duties.  It's a point of national pride.  Other services have different levels of expectations and what passes for acceptable for them might be woefully inadequate for us.  This reflects back to crewing requirements.  Perhaps we need to take a look and reduce our expectations of the standards in order to save the fleet overall.

Offline Chris Pook

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...  Perhaps we need to take a look and reduce our expectations of the standards in order to save the fleet overall.

Can a plan be devised that adjusts the crew size according to the situation?

For example -

An individual vessel sailing on EEZ patrol out of Halifax

A pair of vessels sailing in company on EEZ patrol

A vessel sailing in an international taskforce on constabulary duties

A vessel sailing in an international taskforce in a high threat/open warfare environment

A Canadian Task Force sailing in a high threat/open warfare environment.

Is it feasible to man-up, up-arm a vessel according to task and environment?


"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

jollyjacktar

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I would say that a stumbling block could be that if you're always used to sailing in a reduced capacity and crew that it will be more difficult to suddenly have to sail with more expectations put upon you.  It's easier to let up than to pile it on.  As in they found in the past where there was a steep learning curve in both equipment, tactics and personnel requirements to meet the "new" situation, crews paid in blood and tears until they adapted to the new environment.

Offline Chris Pook

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It may be easier JJT but it is also more expensive.   It seems to mean fewer hulls and fewer missions and no way to spool up to a higher tempo.
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jollyjacktar

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It may be easier JJT but it is also more expensive.   It seems to mean fewer hulls and fewer missions and no way to spool up to a higher tempo.

Money, we can afford, when set against the cost of crew's lives and ships.

Offline Halifax Tar

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Money, we can afford, when set against the cost of crew's lives and ships.

Interesting discussion.  The CMDR was out for a visit last week and he touched on the "X" Ship (MTL) and what she will be trialing.

Quite honestly, and this is just my interpretation, to sum up it went like this:

We are approaching a manning crisis in the RCN. We don't see a potential influx of recruits in the near future, and we don't see a drop in our OP tempo, this is what must be done to maintain our Navy and our operational tasks as laid out by the government of the day and what our country expects of the RCN.

The key issue here is the "approaching manning crisis".  It is my opinion and only my opinion that we need to take a hard look at why a) People aren't joining the RCN and b) if they do join why we are unable to keep them in.

Addressing these issues is the fix not reducing crew sizes.  Reducing crew sizes just enables the avoidance of having to deal with the reasons people don't want to join and/or wont stay in.
Lead me, follow me or get the hell out of my way